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“Ride the train, but stay & eat elsewhere”

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Grand Canyon Railway Hotel
Ranked #4 of 30 Hotels in Williams
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersGold level
Reviewed August 1, 2008

My wife & 3 girls & I stayed 2 nights at the hotel, and rode the train to the Grand Canyon. The train was great, but the hotel was not. The room was musty and outdated. It did not have any internet access (you had to trudge to the front desk lobby for limited access to wifi). The dinner at Max & Thelma's Restaurant was a nasty overpriced buffet from hell. The breakfast was OK, but we chose to eat at the Pine Country Restaurant a block into town the next night and got a great meal with delicious pie. Overall, ride the train, but stay & eat elsewhere.

  • Stayed: July 2008, traveled with family
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Thank Brad B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 29, 2008

I've wanted to see the Grand Canyon since I was a little girl, so when my husband got transferred from CA to VA, this was the perfect opportunity to fit a trip in during our cross-country venture. I was more excited about the Grand Canyon than anywhere else we went - and it didn't disappoint. However, we chose our accomodations very carefully and decided to splurge as it was my 30th birthday during the few days we were there. The website touts the accomodations as the finest in the region with unparralled service. My husband called ahead to have champagne waiting in the room for my bday. That was the first disappointment. No champagne - and no apologies or comps for their mistake! Also, the room/hotel was comparable to a mid-level hotel like Comfort Inn or Days Inn. Basic accomodations at best. Definitely not somewhere you'd go for a nice occasion. It wasn't extremely dirty, but it wasn't clean either -- there were hairs in the bathroom and things like that like you typically find in cheap hotels. We had hoped to sleep in the day after the Canyon visit, swim in the pool/hottub and relax. But the pool was definitely not as described and it was overcrowded. Bottom line - the place was adequate for accomodations, but don't be expecting anything nice. It is way overpriced. We should have stayed in Tusayon so we could have at least been close to watch sunset/sunrise at the Canyon. The train would be great for kids -- I actually think this is a good idea for a family. But for a couple, the extras - like stopping the train so "robbers" can board -- aren't exciting enough for the price. Also, everyone on the train was out for a tip instead of just providing genuine quality service-- several people actually hinted to us about giving them tips. Also, the Max and Thelmas food was certainly nothing to write home about. Cafeteria food at best! We actually ate very little after tasting some of the food and opted instead to eat a larger lunch at the Canyon so we could just eat salad for dinner. It is a buffet, so if you want a lot of food it would be OK, but it certainly was not even comparable to the cheapest of Disney resorts or the cheapest of cruises as far as food quality. Overall, we were very disappointed with our experience.

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank JayElleC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 25, 2008

On first impressions from the outside this old hotel looks as though the inside may be in need of some updating too but not so.

Clean bright and modern rooms, good facilities, comfortable beds and decent size bathroom. Free internet facilities in lobby.
Tea and coffee making in room.

Ideally located next to Grand Canyon Railway station, restaurant and buffet breakfast over courtyard from hotel.

Five to ten minutes walk into the centre of Williams for plenty of reasonably priced family type restaurants.

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank SENORAWestMidlands
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 21, 2008

I stayed at this hotel two nights as part of the AAA package. This experience is a good experience as an intro to the Grand Canyon. There are pro's and con's.

Pro's: Very good service...everyone/worker I met was very friendly and kind. The entertainment on the train was very good and it made the time go by faster. Everything seemed very organized from checking in to the hotel...the trains were on time, the motor coach was on time. etc etc. I stayed in a standard room with two double beds and a roll away. We had 3 kids in the room. The room was clean and comfortable. The pool is nice but was full of kids. The exercise room is small had about 5 bicycles and 1 home gym. Parking is ample.

Con's: Max and Thelmas buffet is terrible. The food is dry and they never changed the menu. Its like getting bad cafeteria food. We got stuck with 3 meals their because we got the AAA package...if you can...get the package without the meals. Also, the train ride to Williams is too long...its 2 hours and 15 minutes. The train goes no faster than 40 miles per hour. Plus the train experience for the kids only goes so far before they get ansy. Make sure they bring something to do if you go on the train. Also, the time u spend up their at the Grand Canyon is very short before you have to get on the next train and go back to Williams

Also, no wireless internet available in the rooms you have to go the lobby.

All in all it was a good experience because of the friendliness of the workers but your exposure to the G.C. is limited with the AAA package. If you really want to see it....book things yourselves.

Also, bring LOTS of tip money. Everyone from the waitresses to the cowboys, singers, motorcoach guide..etc.. usually gets tips.

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled with family
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2  Thank scain7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 9, 2008

We stayed here for an overnight to go on the train to Grand Canyon the next morning. Hotel is OK, clean and comfortable.
Max & Thelma's buffet that was included in the package was terrlble. The roast beef was tough and fatty and dried out.
The breakfast buffet was not the worst but it was not good. The restaurant is convenient because it's there at the hotel. I am not a fussy eater - food is food, but the dinner buffet WAS the worst I've ever had. The train was fun and well worth the experience.

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled with friends
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Thank JanTrahan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 8, 2008

We were travelling on business across the Southwest and wanted to stay near the Grand Canyon for a visit. Looking into options, we decided that the one night package at this hotel which included the Railway trip to the Canyon, breakfast, and dinner was a good choice. It only ran about $100 more than conventional plans when meals, gas, and car entrance fees were thrown in. We got our choice of upstairs or down when we checked in with only 1 day book ahead, a suprise for late May. The room was clean and spacious, with the hot tub and pool just around the corner. We had dinner at Max and Thelma's, a buffet style place our package included, with decent if not exceptional food. Service was fine. The next morning we caught breakfast there too, then came the train robbery show. Trains board between 9:00 and 11:00 depending on the number running (which is a function of time of year). The journey out is pretty plain, not much to see other than occasional wildlife along the 50 odd miles of track to the Canyon (the Southwest is an amazing place, but this stretch had to have saved it all up for the Canyon). Our Budd class car (the important bit here, it was one of the few air conditioned ones) had an attendant named Earl and he really was a great delight. Just about to turn 80, he was the consumate attendant, full of comments and genuine hospitality. Earl never lacked a handshake or a smile, nor did he lack a response to apparently any question posed. We later rode back in the same cabin and enjoyed Earl's company and commentary all the way. Expect trouble along the way or as Earl puts it, "No other train I know actually stops for Bandits." All in all, it was a nice time and a simple clean hotel that is both easily accessible from I-40, and someplace I would happily stay again. The website makes it very easy to customize your package stay, and even add a guided bus tour of the Canyon so that you can access some points that our 3 hour stay would not have otherwise allowed.

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled on business
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1  Thank CaptainCoffey
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 8, 2008

Hey folks. My husband and I stayed at this hotel from May 29- May 31, 2008. Max & Thelma retired and the whole place (Hotel, RR, Restaurant) are up for sale. Word spreads fast if you ask the right questions.

Here's the deal...

The hotel is "okay" at best. The staff is wonderful though. There is a bar in the hotel, pool, hot tub, things to see and explore around town. Great restaurants locally, if you don't like the food at Max & Thelma's restaurant since it's all buffet style. The breakfast buffet was okay but the dinner buffet had little to be desired. The scenery is like a big hall (like you would see on a Scout camping trip). I think it was modeled after that. Campers will love it, if that's what you are looking for. It's not a 5 star hotel or restaurant, that's for sure. It does have it's "old style" charm though.

Beware that you can no longer trade your meal tickets in for something out of the gift shops. They took the coffee pot out of the lobby and the water in the hotel isn't all that great for the coffee pots in the room so take some bottled water!! But, if you enjoy a "Power Shower", you're in for a treat!

You can get internet access in the lobby. Plenty of plugs on the wall if you need them. Keep in mind, you are out in the middle of nowhere and it's a small town.

The train...If you're just a "couple", book the "Luxury" car both ways. You can stand on the back of the train if you like and the seating is much better than the other cars. I wouldn't recommend the dome unless you want to capture some great shots of the train and men on horseback. Besides, the lady in the Luxury car will point things out to you, that the others aren't privy too, regarding the surrounding area. And you can walk up the train to the other cars if you like. There is a small gift shop on there as well.

Take plenty of $1 bills with you everywhere. These people survive on tips and they deserve them because they all do an excellent job!!

Smoking accommodations are off the back of the hotel but nowhere on the train, even on the back of the train. Forest fires run rampant up there in the canyon! No sense getting careless with those cigarettes.

Complimentary drinks and snacks are available on the train, but take heed that if you are going to jump on a bus tour, your first stop is the restaurant to eat. However, that's "another" buffet style restaurant as well, so be prepared. And, you only have 1/2 hour so use the restroom first if you need to, it's not all that big!

The bus tour we took was fast and furious. I say that because that was the downside of the trip for us. It went too quick and we only stopped at 2 places on the rim. If you really want to enjoy the canyon, stay overnight. I would recommend any other package deal at the canyon if you truley want to enjoy it's splender up close and personal. Our driver, Frank, was an excellent driver, guide and spokesperson for the canyon though. He did an excellent job!

You can purchase take home gifts at Max and Thelmas. We're explorers so we checked out the town and the prices are the same anywhere you go, so you might as well get your items in their gift shop. However, there's a nice gas station that opens at 5:00am up the road that has some different items for sale as well, if you want to venture out.

Take it all in folks, enjoy your vacation because when are you going to have a chance to go back?

Mr. and Mrs. Eddy
Alabama

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank taeddy64
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Grand Canyon Railway Hotel

Address: 233 N Grand Canyon Blvd, Williams, AZ 86046-2563
Location: United States > Arizona > Williams
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Green Hotel in Williams
#4 Business Hotel in Williams
#5 Romantic Hotel in Williams
#5 Family Hotel in Williams
Price Range: $129 - $245 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Grand Canyon Railway Hotel 3.5*
Number of rooms: 298
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Experience the luxury of a bygone era at Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. Designed to resemble the century-old train depot that housed the original Fray Marcos Hotel, our hotel is a relaxing retreat in a picturesque Western setting. The 298-room hotel is just a block away from downtown Williams and historic Route 66. Combined with a variety of amenities such as complimentary wi-fi, an indoor pool and hot tub, delicious dining options at Grand Depot Cafe and Spenser's Pub, The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel is the perfect place to stay before embarking on your grandest of journeys! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Grand Canyon Railway Williams
Fray Marcos Hotel
Hotel Grand Canyon Railway

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